I had a strange exchange that has troubled me so much that I decided to wait several days before addressing it in order to fully process what happened.

There was discussion about closing a question because its "primary purpose... appear(ed) to be to promote or discredit a specific political cause, group or politician." Having this close reason is essential for the functioning of this SE site, though ascertaining what a question's apparent purpose in borderline situations has sometimes benefitted from discussion.

I was involved in one such discussion.

As closing a question affects everyone -- a vote to close is a vote to block any further answer posts and future readers from reading them -- and since good answers were being posted at the time, I felt that the site benefitted from allowing answer authors the opportunity to address the question and this well outweighed the attempt to "punish" the question author with answer-prevention.

The back-and-forth discussion between myself and another user took a turn when the other user informed me they would flag me and then told me to "shut up".

I replied restating that answers to the question shouldn't be prevented, and also flagged the "shut up" comment but with a message that I felt the discussion about keeping the question open vs shutting it down should stay up for a few more days while closure was pending.

The discussion was removed by moderators, I received a reminder that my commenting sometimes goes on longer than is productive (mea culpa!1)


Are we going to start telling each other to "shut up" now?

I'm curious what it is that leads a user to feel that "shut up" is a reasonable and appropriate response to an argument about leaving a question open vs closing it.

Is "shut up" okay as long as we tightly couple it with a flag so that only a few people see it?

To me, it's something one would shout at the neighbor's dog at 3 AM, not something that we should ever even contemplate saying to each other. It feels like a loss of self-control and potentially falls within a code of conduct issue.

And with a moderator election coming up, I think this has particular relevance.

What do other people think about the use of "shut up" in comments?

1I'm likely not the only one here to have gotten such a reminder; since the moderation team works harder here cleaning up comment strings than I've seen in any other site, we should all do our part to keep comments to a minimum and not be repetitive

  • When a person is talking excessively to the point where another person feels harassed and wishes to disengage, and the excess talking continue, I'm pretty sure that would provoke a lot of people in real life. Why is there any surprise that people on the internet react similarly? The irony of speaking about self-control when one has already said their commenting continues "longer than is productive" should not be lost, nor is "shut up" so much less reasonable than "stop replying to me" in such situations as described.
    – Nij
    Jul 9, 2022 at 8:20
  • @Nij so you think "shut up" is appropriate in comments? Is that your position? I've lived a long life and honestly except for some high school bullies I don't think I've ever been told to shut up nor seen someone I know say it to someone else, except in jest, or as I mentioned by one neighbor to another neighbor's dog at 3 AM. In an SE community we have things like simply not responding, or responding by mentioning that we'll no longer respond, or saying things like "Okay I've got your point, we disagree. Let's move these to chat and see if there's anything further" or flag or some combination Jul 9, 2022 at 11:23
  • @Nij as for self-control, I've already provided my mea culpa above and I'll try to do better. (and the "shut up" was the first suggestion that the party did not wish to continue) Jul 9, 2022 at 11:38
  • 3
    I wasn't involved (I think) in the the exchange, but I do seem to recall it. One can hope the mods were even-handed in handing out admonishments, but I don't see what is the purpose of this post. Obviously the answer to your (rhetorical) Q is "no". And mods can't discuss their other actions, I think, owing to SE policy on the matter. Jul 10, 2022 at 4:49
  • @Fizz "but I don't see what is the purpose of this post." Since an active member felt the answer was "yes", the purpose is to re-confirm that we should strive to use our civil tone in SE, even in comments, even in comments that won't be around for long. Second law of thermodynamics and all, just wanted to make sure it was an accident and not the start of a trend. Also, I probably have thinner skin than most - I felt bad for several days, stayed away from SE, so just writing this out was helpful to me. Jul 10, 2022 at 7:30
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    Since you said the comments were removed by mods, doesn't that mean the answer is "no"? Unless you're consistently seeing long-time users saying it then all you really experienced was the common phenomenon of "somebody got upset on the internet", and I'm not sure what we could do other than continuing to delete those sorts of comments.
    – Giter
    Jul 11, 2022 at 4:36
  • @Giter post hoc ergo propter hoc? No it doesn't because there were several different reasons why they may have been removed. And Stack Exchange is not just some place on the internet; I don't think that's a good lens with which to view it or judge behavior. Jul 11, 2022 at 5:13

1 Answer 1


I think I found the comments you were referring to:

The quality of a question is not measured by the number of answers it gets. If you don't understand that, there is no point discussing this matter further. I"m only one of four people who've thus-far voted to close. Don't bitch at me just because Im open about it.

I AM tired of your endless tendentious nagging. You made your point, I disagreed, you're not going to convince me otherwise. Deal with it and get on with your life. I'm flagging your last couple of posts as unkind; maybe that will convince you to shut it.

Yes, such behavior is clearly out of line. If I had been the moderator to remove them, I would probably have suspended that user. But the moderator who handled the situation apparently felt a bit more lenient than me.

If anyone really thinks that another user should "shut it" because their comments are not constructive, then they should "shut it" themselves and just flag those comments for moderator attention. Telling people to "shut it" is our job. And we are usually a lot more polite about it.

  • 3
    Would the act of telling people that they shouldn't be closing questions because it is bad or that they don't know how to judge questions because they haven't asked enough themselves also fall into the bad behavior category? I have received a few comments on both matters from this user in the past when they don't like my close vote actions.
    – Joe W
    Jul 11, 2022 at 21:16
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    @JoeW If you would like to discuss this topic, please open a new question.
    – Philipp Mod
    Jul 12, 2022 at 7:25

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